After both Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola were unveiled in England as new Manchester United and City managers respectively, today came the chance for Antonio Conte to introduce himself to the British press.
Less than two weeks out from Italy’s Euro 2016 departure, Conte arrived at Stamford Bridge this afternoon, arriving in the Harris Suite for his first media obligation as Chelsea boss at a little later than five past 2.
A host of topics were expected to be discussed, with fans hopeful that Conte would reveal some breaking transfer news, a-la Jose Mourinho.
That, unfortunately, did not happen. In fact, transfer policy in of itself was not a topic that Conte was willing to discuss, opting to instead keep those discussions to himself and the Chelsea bosses.
Whilst Chelsea transfer policy was not on the agenda, there were a host of key takeaways that we can take away from the press conference, many of which will give fans a good idea of what they can expect going into Conte’s first season in charge.
Here are the FIVE biggest takeaways from Antonio Conte’s first Chelsea press conference…
One of the most important takeaways, and one that the Chelsea faithful and British press alike were fearful of surrounds the topic of language.
Whilst Conte has never taken a job in England, having competed in Italy for most of his career so far; his English was near faultless.
Before the press conference he warned journalists that he was not yet fluent in the language, and that he would likely need them to repeat questions occasionally.
In reality, apart from a couple of stumbles, Conte was near faultless in his communication and looked comfortable in his new role.
For what he lacked in fluent language, he made up in charisma and passion, which when dosed together with his already impressive knowledge of the language made the new Chelsea boss come across very well.
This also means that communication in the dressing room will not be an issue; a huge takeaway.
One of the first topics on the agenda surrounded Conte’s infamous use of the 3-5-2 formation, with one journalist asking if he would look to replicate this in England.
In a quip that we expect will become typical of the man, Conte responded by describing managers as tailors; “A manager is like a tailor. You must build the best dress for the team and respect their characteristics.”
In essence what Conte is saying is that he makes a formation fit his players; rather than letting his players fit a certain formation. He played 3 at the back in Italy because it suited the players at his disposal; that might not be the case in England.
Whilst he did not reveal which formation he would be going for, it seems safe to infer that he will be sticking to the tried and tested four at the back formation given the players currently in place at The Bridge.
Another important takeaway surrounds the role that John Terry will have at the club, with one question suggesting that Terry had accepted a reduced role at the club when he signed his new deal.
Conte responded by saying that Terry would remain Chelsea captain, to the delight of Chelsea fans, and that he would captain the side regardless of whether he was playing or not.
He described him as an “important” player, and that his role – like the rest of the squad – will be determined by how well he trains.
He also added that he DID play a role in JT getting a new contract, stating that he was very happy that he signed the deal. Good news all round.
Conte was also quick to put to bed the disastrous nature of the 2015/16 season for The Blues, instead suggesting that “we must think about the present”.
He acknowledged that last season was a poor one for Chelsea, but that it is now over. He will only be looking at the present and towards the future.
He also added that Chelsea “belongs to the Champions League”, suggesting that the ultimate aim of the club is to always feature in the Champion’s League and always challenging for the title.
Many fans had written this season off as a transitional period; but it seems that Conte is not messing around. He wants Chelsea back at the top of the table.
Conte also revealed exactly how he will get the club back up that table – by hard work.
He expressed on numerous occasions the importance of hard work and determination in order to achieve.
He spoke of how he had already been impressed by the “will to fight for the shirt”, with each of the players showing the right attitude and determination.
He added that the club will only improve “through a lot of work”, and that he builds his sides purely from what he sees on the training field.
It remains to be seen just how well Chelsea will do next year; but under Conte it seems you will never be able to criticise players for a lack of work and effort.